Redhead by the Side of the Road

Anne Tyler. Vintage. (192p) ISBN 9781529112450
Redhead by the Side of the Road

Redhead by the Side of the Road

I’ve always meant to read Anne Tyler, got several in the #TBR room waiting for me, but I got sent this as a gift and thought it was a nice thin volume to start with.

From the start I was drawn into Micah’s life and his desire for simplicity in it. To this end he lives his life within strict routines and the story goes on from there.

Anne Tyler fills the book with wonderfully warm characters who she observes with great care and sympathy, filling out the relationships between them.

I particularly loved Micah’s chaotic sisters, the family meal was so reminiscent of so many family meals I’ve had in the past. The ribbing he endures from them is affection spiced with frustration and history.

Anne Tyler’s way with words really made this an engaging and thoughtful read which has me really looking forward to reading her other books.


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An Open Book and Empty Cup

Iqbal Ahmed. Coldstream Publishers. (204p) ISBN 9781527253216

An Open Book and Empty Cup

An Open Book and Empty Cup

It was a delight to receive this gorgeous book and before I even started reading I was delighted in the binding as it is so luxurious, the black with gold really catches the eye and the cloth binding makes it a pleasure to hold.

Once I started reading it though I could feel the passion that Iqbal had for London and and the Kashmir.

We are taken through London in small episodes and memories where we watch the city grow around Iqbal’s time in the city, but always we are drawn back to the Kashmir where comparisons are made with the memories and episodes we have just been told about.

Iqbal uses such descriptive and emotional language throughout the book you couldn’t help but feel his passion for both places, though his passion for the people that he meets whilst on his travels shines out even more.

This is an eloquent hymn of praise for London whilst acknowledging the realities of the city and its continuing developments, a cyclists perambulation of roads and times that had me hanging on every word from start to finish.


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The Year of the Hare

Arto Paasilinna. Peter Owen Publishers. (140p) ISBN 9780720612776

The Year of the Hare

The Year of the Hare

This has been languishing on my shelves ever since I started working in the bookshop. I bought it as it was one of the recommended books in part of the initial training, an exemplar, but at the time I was still reading a relatively narrow range of genres.

I got the opportunity to throw it in my suitcase when we took a trip up to Edinburgh as it felt like it could be the perfect train read.

An episodic travelogue where we follow the journalist Vatanen as he sloughs his past and takes on a new future for himself to deal with his bone weary disappointment with his job, wife and life in general.

Each episode seems to be a completely random development from the previous interlude, and that’s exactly what each chapter feels like, an interlude as the new Vatanen is developing with the aid of the hare that he found at the start of the book. Each chapter has its own internal coherency but adds to the whole, eventually.

The story eventually turns back on itself to a brilliant conclusion, well-written and thoughtfully translated.

This isn’t the first book translated from Finnish that I’ve read and both have had that same sort of dry but very intricate use of humour which is really my taste, loved it!


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The Forager’s Calendar

John Wright. Profile Books. (400p) ISBN 9781781256220

The Forager’s Calendar

The Forager’s Calendar

I picked this up at one of our local shops in Barnard Castle, Oswell’s, as I always try to buy something whenever we visit and there’s usually a great little book selection about nature and the countryside.

I pretty much read this in two sittings it was that fascinating, especially since we had started to go out walking more due to the lockdown and had started trying to identify more fungi, plants, and animals on those walks.

The seasonal breakdown of the foraging guide makes it really handy and helps so much with identification as it separates species that may look similar and tells you when the most likely time for them to be more populous.

John Wright’s writing style is also really easy going but authoritative and helps with making you feel at ease with the subject and not overwhelmed as some foraging guides have made me feel in the past, it’s almost as though he’s there with you.

John is very good at pointing out the dangers inherent in foraging and the risks of misidentification and there’s a really good selection at the back of the book on poisonous species which I’ve read a couple of times.

Another keeper which hopefully will help me harvest more than wild garlic in this coming year.


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.